COVID-19 UPDATE #7
As you are aware, information and guidance regarding COVID-19 is continuing to change daily, if not hourly. WHCA staff are working closely with regulatory bodies and other stakeholders to ensure distribution of accurate and timely information. We continue to seek clarification on a number of imminent issues and hot topics as they evolve. We are currently focused on the following urgent issues:
  • Written guidance and clarification regarding the President’s National Emergency Declaration and comments from Seema Verma restricting nursing home visitors. See McKnight’s LTC News.
  • Visitation for assisted living facilities,
  • Ombuds issues,
  • Access to emergency funding,
  • Survey and Complaint Investigations in facilities as well as requests for COVID-19 investigations,
  • Lab access and COVID-19 testing,
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and
  • Staffing restrictions related to potential exposures to the virus.

Workforce Update
Brenda Orffer is tracking provider challenges related to workforce. You may email Brenda at brendaorffer@whca.org. Here are the workforce issues we are currently monitoring.

Today’s announcement of statewide six-week K-12 schools closure has only exacerbated the challenges for providers who must ensure adequate staffing in skilled nursing and assisted living centers. We believe this is an urgent issue, and we are working aggressively to ensure Governor Inslee and his state agencies are aware of the challenges faced by skilled nursing and assisted living workers who now must worry about childcare.

We reached out to the Governor’s Office, DSHS, the Department of Health, and Chairs of the House and Senate Health Care Committees regarding the need to address current workforce barriers. Click here to review the letter. 

We believe it is critical for the state to:
  • Identify childcare resources for essential health workers in nursing homes and assisted living,
  • Ease federal and state regulations related to the timeline on training and certifying workers,
  • Suspend civil penalties for failure to meet SNF staffing standards, and
  • Accelerating the timeline on background checks and credentialing for out-of-state workers.
 
Since the President has declared a national emergency, state regulators will have additional flexibility regarding the application of laws and rules and will be seeking a waiver from the federal government on a number of issues that are impacting hiring and retaining staff. We will keep you posted.

Child Care Resources
We believe it is urgent to locate child care resources for workers impacted by school closures. While the Legislature has allocated $200 million to support COVID-19 response efforts, including childcare support for essential healthcare workers, the processes for accessing available resources has yet to be developed. We are doggedly determined to ensure that our workers have access to supports, and will be working over the weekend on resource identification.

If you have innovative ideas or programs to share, please email them to Brenda Orffer at brendaorffer@whca.org These ideas will be compiled and shared in future updates. In the meantime, here are some potential child care resources:
  • Check with family, friends and neighbors,
  • Check with local schools to see if they plan to implement daycare services during the closure,
  • Check with local YMCA or YWCA programs for Y-Care options in your area,
  • Check with local Boys and Girls Club programs in your area,
  • Consider checking with local high school students who are also on break, and
  • Utilize online resources like Child Care Aware.

Pierson-Vue Test Cancellations
We had heard a rumor that Pierson-Vue was cancelling CNA certification tests statewide. While there may be some episodic test cancellations, we have been told that Pierson-Vue will continue to schedule tests. If you have problems, please let us know.

WHCA staff are closely monitoring and highly engaged in discussions regarding these and a multitude of other arising concerns. As clarification and guidance is received throughout the weekend, we will make sure you are made aware.

Thank you for all you do. If you have questions or need support, please contact the WHCA office at (800) 562-6170. We are here to support you in any way that we can.